Chase Sapphire Creating a Millennial Cult Brand Case Analysis I need a four page write, and everything in the file, if you have any question please tell me

Chase Sapphire Creating a Millennial Cult Brand Case Analysis I need a four page write, and everything in the file, if you have any question please tell me. For the exclusive use of Z. Yu, 2019.
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REV: NOVEMBER 26, 2018
Chase Sapphire: Creating a Millennial Cult Brand
One morning in July 2017, Pam Codispoti (HBS MBA ‘93), President of Chase Branded Cards, and
Eileen Serra, Senior Advisor and former CEO of Chase Card Services for JPMorgan Chase, shook their
heads in astonishment. They had launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card in August 2016, and the
card exceeded its 12-month sales target in two weeks. Half of the new customers were under 35 years
old, building on the strong millennial cohort that was initially attracted to the Sapphire brand. These
millennial consumers were proudly posting photos of their new Chase Sapphire Reserve cards on
social media. Some were uploading “unboxing” videos on YouTube when they received their Reserve
card. #SapphireReserve was trending on Twitter. One customer, initially denied the card because she
had opened too many new credit card accounts, wore a handmade Chase Sapphire Reserve costume
for Halloween in a social media-fueled attempt to persuade the company to approve her application.
The product’s pièce de résistance that drove social media and word of mouth surrounding the
launch was its 100,000-point sign-on bonus. The size of the bonus was unprecedented for Chase, and
had garnered the attention of prominent bloggers and affiliates such as Brian Kelly, aka The Points
Guy, who declared the Chase Sapphire Reserve “the must-have card of 2016, if not the most appealing
card ever.” 1 It also captured the attention of competitors, who saw it as a shot across the bow in the
arms race of reward programs.
While Codispoti and Serra were pleased with the progress to date, they knew that their hard work had
just begun. As planned, the company had reduced the introductory 100,000-point bonus to 50,000 points in
January 2017. Now they had to ensure that the flood of new customers became profitable to the firm.
As the company approached the one-year anniversary of the Reserve launch, Codispoti and Serra
wondered how many of their enthusiastic consumers would remain with the brand, renew their cards
for another year, and pay the $450 annual fee now that their promotional inducement was gone. They
had to assess how the drop to 50,000 bonus points would impact the rate of new customer acquisition—
particularly given the enhanced richness of American Express’s and Citi’s rewards programs—and to
design new features and benefits for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to maintain its competitive
differentiation. They also wanted to return their attention to the broader Sapphire portfolio, which
included two other products—Sapphire and Sapphire Preferred. How should the products be
differentiated to ensure they did not cannibalize each other? Were there other new products that could
address the needs of new customer segments to capitalize on the momentum of the Reserve launch?
Professor Shelle Santana, Senior Lecturer Jill Avery, and Case Researcher Christine Snively (Case Research & Writing Group) prepared this case.
It was reviewed and approved before publication by a company designate. Funding for the development of this case was provided by Harvard
Business School and not by the company. Shelle Santana is a former employee of American Express. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis
for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective
Copyright © 2017, 2018 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-5457685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to This publication may not be digitized,
photocopied, or otherwise reproduced, posted, or transmitted, without the permission of Harvard Business School.
This document is authorized for use only by Zejian Yu in MKT 634-Consumer Behavior taught by MAZEN JABER, Saginaw Valley State University from Aug 2019 to Feb 2020.
For the exclusive use of Z. Yu, 2019.
Chase Sapphire: Creating a Millennial Cult Brand
JPMorgan Chase: Consumer and Community Banking
JPMorgan Chase operated four lines of business: Commercial Banking, Corporate & Investment
Bank, Asset & Wealth Management, and Consumer & Community Banking (CCB). Under the
leadership of CEO Gordon Smith, the CCB division served as the face of the company to the general
public. In addition to credit cards, CCB also included merchant acquiring, payment processing, small
business and consumer banking services (including Chase’s 5,200 retail bank branches), mortgages,
and auto financing.
In 2016, CCB counted nearly half of all U.S. households as customers and generated $44.9 billion in
revenue, with net income of $9.7 billion. Chase was ranked #1 or #2 in credit card issuance, credit and
debit payments volume, and merchant acquisitions. It boasted the highest-rated mobile banking app
and the largest ATM network (with 18,000 locations), and was the most visited banking portal. Over
50% of affluent U.S. households lived within two miles of a Chase branch or ATM.
The U.S. Consumer Credit Card Market
There were five primary players in the credit card industry. Issuers were banks that issued credit
cards to consumers and businesses, extended loans in the form of credit lines, and absorbed the
resulting credit risk. Cardholders repaid charges made on their cards, often in monthly installments,
paying interest on the unpaid portion. Merchant Acquirers signed up and managed relationships with
Merchants so that merchants could accept credit cards as a form of payment. Network Providers (e.g.,
MasterCard and Visa) processed payments between consumers and merchants. Under the “open-loop”
system operated by MasterCard and Visa, an issuer, such as JPMorgan Chase, marketed and issued
cards to consumers and businesses, MasterCard or Visa processed the transactions, and a merchant
acquirer enrolled merchants to accept issuers’ cards running on the network provider’s system. 2 In
contrast, American Express (Amex) and Discover served as their own network providers and merchant
acquirers in a “closed-loop” system. Each of the partners received a small percentage of the value of
each customer’s purchase (i.e., “transaction”). (See Exhibit 1 for a summary.)
In 2016, the U.S. general purpose credit card industry sales totaled ~$3 trillion. 3 In Q4 2016, the
market was dominated by six issuers that accounted for 78% of industry sales. JPMorgan Chase led in
market share (21.7%), followed by Amex (19.9%), Citigroup (11.5%), Capital One (11.0%), Bank of
America (8.9%), and Discover (4.7%). 4 The industry experienced 1.1% annual revenue growth between
2011 and 2016, and was expected to grow 4.5% annually between 2016 and 2021. 5 Industry profit
margins had dropped from 31% in 2011 to 25% in 2016 due to lower interest rates, increased
competition, greater regulation, and security/technology costs. 6 Customer acquisition in the industry
was competitive and expensive. Costs to acquire a new cardholder ranged from $250 to $500. 7
American consumers held 636 million credit cards 8 and 38% of households carried credit card
revolving debt, which averaged roughly $11,000. 9 On average, people carried 2.35 credit cards in their
wallets (14% held seven or more cards) 10 but generally only used one on a regular basis. Thus, issuers
strove to make their cards the preferred choice, or “top of wallet.” Generally speaking, Amex network
cardholders charged $1,687 per month on their cards, while Visa cardholders charged $843. 11
Issuers had three main sources of revenue: cardholder fees, interest paid by consumers on unpaid
card balances, and interchange fees, which were paid by merchants as a percentage of each transaction
amount. The contribution of each revenue source varied greatly from one issuer to another. For
example, Amex, which required its charge card customers to pay all purchases in full each month,
earned 21% of its revenue from interest payments and 79% from cardholder and interchange fees, 12
This document is authorized for use only by Zejian Yu in MKT 634-Consumer Behavior taught by MAZEN JABER, Saginaw Valley State University from Aug 2019 to Feb 2020.
For the exclusive use of Z. Yu, 2019.
Chase Sapphire: Creating a Millennial Cult Brand
while JPMorgan Chase earned an estimated 70% of its revenue from interest payments and 30% from
cardholder and interchange fees. 13 Across the industry, about 30% of all customers were transactors
(those who paid their balances off in full each month to avoid paying interest fees), 43% were revolvers
(those who did not pay off their balances in full each month), and 28% were dormant (those who carried,
but did not use their cards frequently). 14
Market Segmentation
Issuers segmented the market in different ways in order to identify different types of consumers.
Common segmentation strategies included demographic, behavioral, and psychographic methods.
Demographic segmentation separated consumers based on their life stage, assets, or credit score.

Life Stage: Young adults (ages 18–26) accounted for 15% of industry revenue. 15 The 26–60 age
group accounted for 59% and tended to be more loyal. 16 Senior citizens accounted for 15%, and
the remainder (11%) was derived from business accounts. 17

Assets/Credit: The wealthy segment consisted of households with $500,000 to $1 million in assets,
the affluent segment $100,000 to $500,000, and the emerging affluent segment consisted of those
not yet affluent, but likely to be so within five to ten years. 18 Affluent and wealthy consumers
preferred to put most of their spending on credit cards and were a little less likely to carry
revolving debt than the average consumer.
Behavioral/attitudinal segmentation provided insight into how consumers used their cards and
how much they valued rewards and/or what types of rewards they preferred (cash back, miles, points),
as well as their channel preferences. For example:

Annual Fee: While most consumers did not pay an annual fee for credit cards, some issuers
offered cards with annual fees of $25–$550 to attract consumers that valued rich rewards and

Rewards: Rewards were one of the key features consumers considered when selecting and using
a credit card. There were currently three types of rewards cards in the market:

Cash Back on Purchases: Cards that offered cash back attracted consumers who didn’t want
to spend time planning for and redeeming reward points. Some products offered higher
percentages of cash back on spending in particular categories.

Proprietary Rewards on Purchases: Issuers offered rewards in the form of points
accumulated based on spending; point multiples varied for different categories of
purchases. Points could be redeemed for travel benefits, merchandise, or other perks.

Cobranded Rewards on Purchases: Issuers partnered with particular hotels, airlines,
retailers, and other merchants to offer cobranded cards that offered rewards affiliated with
that partner. Points earned would typically be transferred to the cobrand partner’s loyalty
program. These cards carried both the partner and the issuer brands.
Recently, some issuers had increased their level of rewards and cobrand partner remuneration
to a point where the costs of the rewards were approaching the interchange fee the issuer earned
on the purchase.
This document is authorized for use only by Zejian Yu in MKT 634-Consumer Behavior taught by MAZEN JABER, Saginaw Valley State University from Aug 2019 to Feb 2020.
For the exclusive use of Z. Yu, 2019.
Chase Sapphire: Creating a Millennial Cult Brand

Interest Rates or APR: Low interest rates appealed to consumers who wanted the option to
extend payment on card purchases over time. Average interest rates varied by card type and
could range from 12.88% to over 20%. 19

Credit Lines: Some heavy spenders were drawn to cards with high credit lines that allowed them
to access credit for big-ticket purchases in categories such as travel and home improvement.

Creditworthiness: Consumers with low credit scores were attracted to cards that offered a high
likelihood of approval. These cards often carried higher interest rates and/or annual fees to
compensate for the higher level of risk the issuer incurred.
A segmentation approach based on consumer psychographics offered yet another way to group
consumers. McKinsey & Company identified five prominent segments based on consumers’ beliefs
about and attitudes toward credit (see Exhibit 2 for segment descriptions and Exhibit 3 for how
consumer behavior differed by card type). 20
A New Strategy for Chase Consumer Credit Cards
In 2006, despite the size and profitability of Chase Card Services, JPMorgan Chase CEO James
“Jamie” Dimon (HBS MBA ’82) believed that more should be done to strengthen Chase’s proprietary
products and to build a stronger presence for the company in the affluent market. In 2007, he hired
Gordon Smith from Amex to become the CEO of Chase Card Services. Smith and Serra, who had also
recently joined Chase, created a new strategy that rationalized the company’s product portfolio and
identified the need to create new Chase proprietary products to compete in the affluent market.
Serra launched a substantial market research project. “It was clear we needed to deeply understand
the various segments in the market, what features were attractive to those segments, and what kinds
of products we wanted to build for those segments,” she explained. The research confirmed the
attractiveness of the affluent/high net worth (AFF/HNW) customer segment. According to company
research, this group represented ~15% of the ~200 million U.S. cardholders, generating ~50% of total
spending on credit cards, of which Chase was capturing ~15% market share. Sixty percent of
AFF/HNW individuals lived in the top 15 markets in the U.S. that were well-served by Chase branches.
Competition in the affluent space was formidable. Travel cobranded credit card products, such as
those for United and Delta Air Lines, had always been strong in the affluent market, but competition
for proprietary issuer cards had been dominated by Amex. In 1984, Amex had introduced its Platinum
Card, initially available by invitation only, with a $250 annual fee. It offered 24-hour customer service,
access to exclusive clubs, and special amenities at high-end hotels, resorts, and restaurants around the
world. 21 In 2007, Amex increased the annual fee to $450, but its extensive slate of rewards and perks
allowed savvy users to recoup most of this cost. 22 The Platinum Card’s value proposition included
exclusivity, rewards, and access. Amex referred to its customers as “card members,” and all cards were
embossed with a “member since” date, which for many served as a badge of honor that marked the
arrival of financial success and stability. “For more than 30 years American Express has reaped
enormous profits by telling its customers that they are successful, elite, the cream of the moneyed crop
and . . . that there’s no better way to make certain everyone knows just how special you are than by
pulling an Amex out of your wallet,” explained the New York Times. 23 However, after reviewing
consumer insights from her research, Serra questioned just how relevant the Amex brand was to the
younger, emerging affluent consumer. She felt confident that Chase could compete for these affluent
consumers with the right product and positioning.
This document is authorized for use only by Zejian Yu in MKT 634-Consumer Behavior taught by MAZEN JABER, Saginaw Valley State University from Aug 2019 to Feb 2020.
For the exclusive use of Z. Yu, 2019.
Chase Sapphire: Creating a Millennial Cult Brand
Chase Sapphire: A New Sub-Brand Is Born
In 2009, JPMorgan Chase consolidated its Chase proprietary card portfolio into five primary subbrands to address distinct market segments: JPMorgan (for private banking customers), Chase
Sapphire (for affluent consumers interested in travel and dining), Chase Ink (for small business
owners), Chase Freedom (for those consumers interested in cash back), and Chase Slate (for consumers
interested in building financial responsibility). The Chase brand was used on all products as an
endorser brand, which gave consumers a sense of trust, credibility, and security, according to Chief
Brand Officer Susan Canavari, while each of the sub-brands carried its own unique meaning. Serra
recounted the discussion: “There were people who felt that all of our products should just be called
‘Chase.’ That just didn’t make sense to me. The market is highly segmented. Sub-branding allows you
to speak directly to each target segment. I think it strengthens the Chase brand, broadening it and
making it more relevant to more segments of consumers.”
In August 2009, Chase launched Chase Sapphire, its first Chase proprietary card marketed to the
affluent consumer. A company statement articulated the value proposition of this new offering: For
today’s savvy affluent consumer, Chase Sapphire is the new, next generation rewards card that combines the
premium service and travel benefits high-end consumers expect with practical features, so that they can always
get more of what matters most. To enter the market, the team decided to offer a card with no annual fee.
Consumers earned 1 point per dollar on general spend and 2 points per dollar on airline travel booked
through Chase. Customers also received 10,000 bonus reward points after they spent $500 on the card
during the first three months.
To support all Chase proprietary products, including Sapphire, Chase launched Ultimate Rewards,
a proprietary rewards program with a simple and transparent online portal where customers could
manage their rewards, offers, and redemptions. It included a user-friendly landing page containing all
of the information that a customer might need: point tracking, progress toward program goals, and
redemption options with point conversions listed so that customers could easily see the value of their
points. It was a clear differentiator, according to Canavari. “Over the course of time, if you use the
product, you will fall in love with it. It’s not like other cards that offer you things and when you try to
use them, you can’t actually redeem them. When you go to redeem your points with us, you’re going
to be able to redeem them for great value at really great places.” Lisa Walker, General Manager of
Chase Sapphire Branded Cards, added, “Consumers believe that we deliver significant value and they
like the elevated experiences and the simple nature of our rewards program. It is easy to understand
and easy to redeem: no gotchas, rewards are automatically credited to your account. You don’t have to
do anything.” (See Exhibit 4 for images of the Ultimate Rewards website.)
All Chase Sapphire calls were answered by a live advisor. As Walker noted, “You don’t have to
push any buttons. You don’t have to enter your credit card number. You simply call the number on the
back of your card and someone answers the phone and says, ‘Thank you for calling Chase Sapphire.
How can I help you?’ That is unique today in the credit card industry.” Chase staffed the lines with
experienced, high-performing representatives to improve customer satisfaction. The teams had a goal
of answering 85% of calls within 20 seconds and resolving customer issues within one call. “It’s
certainly a more expensive way of servicing our customers . . . but there is a clear connection between
the service experience improvements, net promotor score improvements, and customer retention,” said
Tom Horne, Head of C…
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